...working together to attain a higher level

Please send news and comments to: gene@weiner-intl.com       

Link to new EMSNow video interview by Philip Stoten at IPC PCB EXPO 2014 (9 minutes):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVOPMgbZ6kA


Masamitsu "Matt" Aoki has updated his detailed charts of "Build-Up Types of Printed Wiring Boards and Their Applications in Japan" (Version 14.1) and "Thin Types of Printed Wiring Boards and Their Applications in Japan" (Version 24.1). They are both now current through June 2014.

Write to us at gene@weiner-intl.com if you wish a copy.

July 2014

Dateline July 23, 2014 5:40PM EST

It is with great sadness and deep regret that I must inform you of the passing this morning of Dieter Bergman, Global Industry Icon of the printed circuit industry, colleague, and friend of the past half century. He worked selflessly and tirelessly with great charm and wit his entire life in behalf of the industry, enabling the impossible to become the possible. The accolades that are sure to follow will be dwarfed by his actual accomplishments.

Wake up America! It has been 5 years since we have been the world's leading innovator!

Report: The United States not even close to being top global innovator By Pam Tobey July 23 at 5:39 AM - Source: The Washington Post

Switzerland is a four-time champ when it comes to global innovation. The United States? Not so much lately — the country last achieved that spot in 2009. The United Kingdom jumped ahead of Sweden to claim the No. 2 spot behind Switzerland in the recently released Global Innovation Index 2014, put out jointly by the business school INSEAD, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and Cornell University.

The index covers many variables that contribute to innovation, including institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, market and business sophistication, knowledge and technology and creativity. It gathers data for 81 different indicators in 143 economies to come up with rankings. In 2007, the United States was at the top of the list. In 2010, it plummeted to 11th place, partially due to the battering of the economy by the financial crisis. Among the regions in the report, Europe holds the top spot, followed by North America.

Have you wondered what happened to all those great new product introductions from the IPC APEX, Productronica, HKPCA, CPCA, TPCA, NEPCON and other trade shows around the world  the past 3 to 5 years?

Well, I have been wondering, reflecting, interviewing, and thinking. Every inventor's product is his "baby". It is difficult to face reality and listen to advice  when one is emotionally attached.

Have most inventors determined the commercial viability of a “new” product, or how to make it so before the product launch? Apparently not. How long, from date of introduction should an invention or improvement take to begin to realize its potential? Three years? Less? What does it take to achieve it? When are incremental changes “good enough” to extend a product’s life cycle or propel it forward? What is the true cost of the “beneficial” change? What is the risk versus reward to the buyer and his customer? What is the projected life cycle of the replacement technology? What is needed to drive demand upwards broadly and rapidly to attain its goals and go beyond the inventor’s dreams?
The answer to these and other vital questions appear to continue to elude many participants and “wannabe’s” in the board fabrication and packaging supply chain.
A number of promising, “revolutionary”, “game-changing” technologies, systems, and products for bare board fabrication have been introduced at major trade shows around the world during the past 3 to 5 or more years. Their companies bear such names as Aiscent Technologies, Semblant, Rainbow, MIVA Technologies, Interdyne (gone as of June 23), and Long Victory Technology (a rising star?).
Why haven’t they become main stream yet? Is it too soon for a post mortem of their activities as well as others of their ilk? Can the right strategic or technical shift or a new alliance renew the hoped-for trajectory? Has the market changed bypassing the creation's need? Were the benefits properly assessed, evaluated, and marketed?
What is YOUR organization’s situation/plan? Can you truly differentiate yourself from the past? From the competition? 
Can we help  you improve your odds? Increase your success rate?

Who will share in IBM’s vision of the future?

During the next 5 years IBM will invest $3 billion in R&D for “the post silicon era”. Which equipment and material suppliers will partner with it? Who else has such a forward looking budget? According to CIO Bernie Meyerson, the investments include programs in areas such as III-V materials expected to be used around the 5nm node, which some say could be the last generation of silicon-based chip technology. They also include a broad set of programs ranging from 3D chip packaging to computer architectures such as quantum and neural processing and post-silicon chip materials such as carbon nanotubes and graphene. "This is not about semiconductors per se but a broad statement about reinventing computing," he said. Today’s silicon CMOS processes will hit atomic limits (a brick wall) somewhere around the 5nm node in about 2020. Many of the IBM programs are about finding new techniques that will drive hardware performance beyond that point. "The real issue is silicon goes quantum mechanical at these dimensions. It no longer works. At this time, there is no consensus on what's next." However, "we still have a 5-10 year horizon” to find solutions.

Someone forgot to tell them...

...about the economic recovery. Microsoft will chop 18,000 jobs in the next year as it lays off 14% of its workforce. 2/3 of the cut will come from the phone and tablet work force in order to eliminate the post Nokia acquisition bulge. I guess CEO Satya Nadella won't be running for U.S. president in the near future.

It was not too long ago when "everyone" just wanted a very small cell phone

Smart phones with screens larger than 5.5 inches seem to be cutting into the tablet market, especially those with 7 to 7.9-inch screens which accounted for 58% of the market in 2013. Tablet shipments the first quarter of 2014 declined about 5% from the same period last year. This is the first time such a drop has been noted in tablet sales since their introduction.

Good move, Ray!

Have you noticed the shortage of RF substrates? Isola announced increased production of and a 24-hour response service to provide designers with a turnkey solution for all the calculations, testing, characterization and material recommendations to fill the gap with its "low loss materials". Target applications include 23GHz, and 76-79Hz frequencies used in advanced driver frequencies.

It is not too early.....

.....to start planning your participation and attendance at the early key Fall events. Have you wondered if the lost board business has all gone overseas or if something else is occurring? Have advances in packaging and system technology supplanted portions? Are segments morphing into newer technologies? Do you know what these opportunities (threats to your conventional business) are?

You will have an opportunity to view, discuss, and evaluate, these at the rebranded 2nd annual Electronic Systems Technologies Conference and Exhibition to be held at the IPC TechSummit in Raleigh, North Carolina October 28-30. Some of the topics presented and discussed at the original held in Las Vegas have already begun to move into the mainstream. Chaired once again by Intel's Dr. Senol Pekin, this year's event has already attracted key interconnect industry figures who will discuss trends, what matters to them, and new technologies.

It is also worth noting that Dr. Michael Osterman, Director of CALCE at the University of Maryland will chair the 8th Annual Tin Whiskers Conference during TechSummit.

Job creation

China's finance minister Lou Jiwei said that the country is not planning any new stimulus measures and it is up to the United States to drive the global economy. He stated that leaders are satisfied with the country's economic performance so far this year and that in the first five months China had already created up to 6 million jobs, 60 percent of this year's target.

According to AP, analysts say that the ruling party appears willing to accept economic growth below its 7.5 percent target this year so long as the rate of creation of new jobs stays high enough to avoid political tensions.

Jiwei said that China is emphasizing structural reforms to spur economic growth and is unlikely to repeat the kind of massive economic stimulus it did in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. He pointed out that the U.S. economy shrank at a 2.9 percent annual rate from January to March and China hopes the U.S. "can take measures to ensure the momentum of growth."

Nothing is forever

Check our Comments Page for Dr. Numakura's (DKN Research) startling story about the divestiture of  a major business by Sony after posting losses of a billion dollars this past year.

Labor shortage in China (for Taiwan PCB makers)?

Taiwan-based PCB makers in Taiwan and China expect 2014 sales to be up a bit less than 3% from 2013 to $17.98 billion.

Taiwan's Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center (IEK) warned that Taiwan-based PCB makers will continue to face severe labor shortages in China in the years ahead due to rapid changes in its demographic structure. 

This will force Taiwan-based PCB makers to seek alternative locations for their future investment plans, according to sources of the DigiTimes.

June 2014

New product introduction

Are you preparing to launch a new product? Is it truly commercially viable? What obstacles must it overcome to gain acceptance? What markets does it serve? Is the use or application broad-based or limited? Does it add a new function, combine features of existing products/processes, or replace them? What is the competition? Does it require new equipment? Is it's use or manufacture easily controlled? Is it consistent? Is the IP secure? Does it meet industry or corporate standards? What are the service requirements? Does it have a shelf life? Special storage requirements? What is the best "delivery system'? Is the offering cost effective?

A new flexible substrate material, LEXFLEX,  made in Hong Kong with Cu foil thickness options of 6 microns or 8 microns on polyimide single or double-sided is being introduced in greater China by WKK. Designed for semiadditive circuit processes, HDI circuitry and for COF (LCD), the new new adhesiveless material is said to be "more than competitive" with current market offerings. It passes SGS tests and has obtained a UL Certificate of Compliance.

Lowering the barriers?

*Chinese companies invested $14 billion in the U.S. in 2013 according to the research firm the Rhodium Group.

Watch for a new bilateral investment treaty, or BIT, as a major outcome of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue to be held on July 9-10 in Beijing. It could result in a ramp up of Chinese investment (now about $17 billion) and job creation in the U.S.

Perhaps the new interest in investment* and job creation in the U.S. by Chinese companies will increase and follow such examples as Golden Dragon Copper Tube Group and Fuyao Glass. Golden opened a plant last month that employs 300 in Alabama. Another Chinese company stated that it will bring a 3-D printing operation to Alabama. Fuyao is taking over an abandoned GM factory in Ohio which will employ 800 in the manufacture of glass. Manufacturing cost differentials between China and the U.S. has declined from 14% to 5% during the past 10 years. The cost of power and labor is rising faster in China that the U.S.

Beware the "cheap"  smart phone

AP reported G Data Software, a German security firm, said that it found malicious code hidden in the proprietary software in the Star N9500 a Chinese smart phone ordered from a web site last month.  G Data stated that the spyware it found on the device could allow a hacker to steal personal data, place calls, or turn the phone's camera and microphone on. Stolen information was reported to be sent to  server in China. The phone manufacturer has not yet been traced or determined. The manufacturer was not identified in any of the documentation or on the phone.

No surprise here

The May 2014 IPC North American Industry report shows a below parity book-to-bill ratio of 0.98. YTD bookings fell to -8.1 percent. Prognosticators remain positive for the fall - both domestically and overseas. Though PWB supply chain sales slipped again in greater China last month, sales managers were optimistic about September/October bookings. Yet it is difficult to see what will fuel the improvement and where it will occur - following optimistic IC reports. The U.S. "final" GNP report for the first quarter showed a decline of 2.9% along with consumer confidence (and spending).

Or here

The June 17 South China Morning Post broke the results of an "undercover investigation" during my June trip to Hong Kong. The newspaper claimed rampant corruption in China as firms bought "beauty marks" (ISO 9000 Certificates). Those "in-the-know" stated that without a "cash gift" a company could expect some obstacles and delays in getting certified. With the bribe, certification could be as short as 1 or 2 months instead of the usual 9.

The good, the bad, and....?

Occupied booth spaces at the JPCA held in Tokyo June 4-6 increased from 1320 to 1402. Attendance was 119,220 versus 115,062. I wonder how many of these were real prospects as the printed circuit industry in Japan remains depressed. Exhibitor management from such firms as Yamaha Motor, Yamaha Finetech, Shoda Techron, Hioki, Sanwa Chemical, Inspec, and KMT all stated that visitors (prospective customers) from other Asian countries are continuing to decline each year.  When asked about his general opinion regarding electronic interconnects, electronic packaging, and the economy in Japan one Shacho (President) responded, "Only automotive related industry is very active. Others are cutting off and eating their own hands and legs for survival!"

The new JISSO roadmap was also presented at the JPCA - but only in Japanese. Hopefully the IPC will soon arrange an English translation for its members.

Although a few domestic fabricators are reporting the best sales in 3 years (by winning orders away from competitors), the majority seem to be remaining in the doldrums.  A number of the smaller American "shops" report a drop in May sales after a hopeful April. A major global member of the PCB supply chain states that bookings are looking flat to slightly negative compared to 2013, which was a "down" year - and that is NOT good! PC's, major board consumers, are down for the 3rd year in a row. He thinks that the 2nd half's recovery "does not look so good",  and may just serve to bring 2014 to a level slightly above that of 2013. It is his opinion that the major growth in tablets has already happened.

We are wondering how hybrid tablet-notebooks should be classified. We wonder about the larger smart phones and smaller tablets and what their effect would be, recalling that many young Asians - and some "Westerners" now - just want to have one small portable device to conduct most of their internet/phone activities. Tripod Technology, T-Flex Techvest and other Taiwan-based fabricators report continued growth in rigid-flex business for smart phones and tablets, e.g., Dynamic Electronics posted a $1 million profit for the first quarter after a string of five successive quarter losses.

Smart phone sales continue to surge. There are now 700 million of them in China*. Huawei has introduced a new "Microsoft Model" and expects to sell 40 million units this year. Beijing Xiaomi Technology has replaced HTC in the "top 10". It forecasts sales of 60 million smart phones this year, nearly triple last year's turnover and expects to enter the market in India next. Xiaomi will also introduce the Mi Pad tablet, with a 7-inch screen and 16GB in storage for about $240.

*2014 sales of smart phones in China are expected to exceed 420 million units according to Taiwan's Digitimes Research Group!